DG Digest: PHMSA harmonizes with ICAO on lithium battery transport

The FRA is seeking nominations to its Rail Energy Transport Advisory Committee.  A Canadian Pacific unit oil train roars over the White River Bridge in Auburn, Washington on March 3rd, 2019.  Photo © 3/2019 by Nikki Burgess; all rights reserved.

The second full week in March finds PHMSA having published its lithium battery by air revisions, and, just to make things interesting, the agency threw in a twist.  See the details below.  Meanwhile, Spring Break season is here.  Make sure your employees don’t get distracted from their need to be safe—a looming vacation can often take people’s minds from their work, and no one needs to spend their vacation injured.  Here’s all the latest:


The agency published its harmonization with the ICAO rules from transporting lithium batteries aboard aircraft.  In general, the rule conforms the 49 CFR to what shippers already see in ICAO/IATA when it comes to shipping by air.  PHMSA did impose a new marking requirement for ground shipment of lithium ion batteries (UN3480) in that it is now required to apply either the Cargo Aircraft Only or a new “Lithium Ion Batteries forbidden for transport aboard passenger aircraft” label to such packages.  Readers may wish to see Brian Beetz’s full blog on the subject published last Friday.  Otherwise, here’s a quick brief on the highlights:

  • Forbid lithium ion batteries UN3480 on passenger aircraft
  • 49 173.185(c)(3)(iii) is changed to require that all small lithium battery shipments (both lithium metal and lithium ion) by all modes must bear a mark warning that lithium metal or lithium ion batteries are contained within and the package is not permitted on passenger aircraft.  The CAO label can be used to meet this requirement
  • Added SP A100 for lithium ion batteries, limiting SOC to 30%
  • Harmonized with the ICAO TI (and IATA) packing instruction PI965, Section II by limiting to one the number of packages of small lithium batteries that may be offered to an air carrier in a single consignment. The same limit applies to the number of small lithium battery shipments in an overpack
  • Revised SP A51 to remove the provisions for a single lithium ion aircraft battery not exceeding 35 kg on a passenger aircraft

Here’s a link to the rule

The agency also released new letters of interpretation that clarify the status of some devices under the UN ID # UN3268, Safety Devices.  If you ship micro-gas generators (MGG’s) as part of your safety devices, you may want to have a look:


The agency published a rule modifying and easing the requirements for additional formal instruction for drivers upgrading from Class B to Class A CDL’s.  See the modification here

The agency also released fresh guidance material related to CDL licensing standards in general.  See the updated help here

In a third CDL license related action, the agency is seeking comment son its current requirements for drivers to fill out employment applications.  See the portal here


The agency issued a call for nominations for service on its advisory committee for transport of energy products by rail.  This committee assists the FRA in developing rulemaking concerned with things like oil trains.  Here’s a link if you’re interested in serving


The agency extended for one month its comment period for its request for input related to its current structure of guidance documents.  The new close date is May 8thHere’s your access to comment


The agency has issued a request for information from users about how they operate and maintain their powered industrial trucks.  This request seems to be a precursor to OSHA looking into the issue of an eventual modification of the current rules governing such devices, which are among the most common items of OSHA regulated equipment in industry.  Would you like to contribute?  Here’s your portal for access

Labelmaster is a full-service provider of products, shipping and training software, and professional consulting services to assist the DG and HS&E professional to comply with national and international regulations.  See our full line of solutions at www.labelmaster.com.

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